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The History of Strollers: From 1733 to Today

Have you ever wondered where strollers came from? The first stroller was created by William Kent in 1733. He was an English architect from London. He came up with the idea for the Duke of Devonshire’s children. It was first called a “baby carriage” or “pram” and developed over the years to become what we know as a stroller today.

As a mom, I’ve used baby strollers for several years now and I know a thing or two about how important they are. We are going to talk about the stroller industry and how the first stroller came to be.

How did People Carry Babies Before Strollers?

Before baby strollers, people would mostly carry young infants on their hips. Other means of transportation included a baby carrier or some sort of sling or pouch. Baby-wearing allowed mothers freedom while also keeping their babies secure. Some parents even used baskets to carry their babies. For older children, a frame backpack was often used.

A not as common form of transportation was bicycle carriers. The baby would be placed in the basket on the front of the bicycle while riding.

When Were Strollers Invented?

Baby strollers were invented in 1733 by Royal Garden architect William Kent. He was asked by the Duke of Devonshire to invent an easier way to transport his children. Of course, we modern moms are so glad that he did.

Before baby carriages were made available to the general public, they were only available to people who could afford them. Queen Victoria bought three carriages from Hitchings Baby Store since it was where baby carriages were manufactured. Around this time, several features were added. This included brakes and a parasol and umbrella hanger. These were created in a way that almost made them feel like art with their wicker baskets and expensive brass joints.

The First Stroller Ever

The first stroller (also known as the first baby carriage) looks a lot different compared to modern baby strollers. It was a shell-shaped basket on wheels. There was no handlebar to push it around. It was designed to be pulled by a goat or small pony. Believe it or not, this was fairly normal for that period.

The handle came later from an American inventor named Charles Burton. This concept was accepted by the Queen in England, but not in the United States. So, he traveled overseas and took the idea with him.

The First Stroller Patent

The first stroller patent wasn’t actually filed until the late 1800s, 1889 to be exact. William Richardson was the one who decided to finally get a patent for early strollers. He slightly improved upon William Kent’s design, adding features like an umbrella style canopy and the ability for the baby to be in a sitting position or lay down. Though it still had the same structure of a wicker basket on a metal frame with wheels. Baby strollers were still becoming more and more popular before the patent was filed.

A Brief History

Let’s talk about some different baby stroller types. It is so interesting to see how some of the most popular baby strollers came to be.

The First Jogging Stroller

The first jogging baby stroller wasn’t invented until 1984. Phil Baechler came up with the idea because of his child. Baechler enjoyed running but found it difficult to handle a traditional baby carriage while doing so. His company started to sell jogging strollers and popularity started to rise within the first decade. Jogging strollers are made for your toddler to snooze while you get in some exercise. The best part is that it was made as a single stroller and a double stroller for more than one child, particularly twins. If you take a look at early designs, the wheels are large, almost like the wheels you see on a bicycle. Of course, this design has only been improved upon since then, with modern strollers using smaller wheels.

The First Umbrella Stroller

The first true umbrella stroller was created by Owen Maclaren in 1965. It was meant to be a more lightweight version of a baby carriage. It was easy to fold and easy to move around because it wasn’t so heavy. The frame was made of aluminum, a very light metal. Owen Maclaren had a daughter, who is the one who led him to come up with this idea because she talked about how difficult it was to get around sometimes with a baby and a heavy pram, especially when she planned to travel to America from England. It was also made easier to use so parents could use it to carry older babies. It’s all-around a smooth ride for both the baby and you.

The First Reversible Stroller

The first reversible baby stroller was patented by William Richardson. He designed it so the bassinet could be in the forward-facing position or facing the person pushing. This design also allowed for easier maneuvering. Since the wheels were no longer attached to the baby carriage, they had a bigger range of motion and turns were less difficult.

The First Bassinet Stroller

The bassinet baby stroller is actually the first one invented by William Kent. The baby seat was a bassinet or basket with the baby lying down inside, which was perfect for a sleeping baby. This changed with the invention of other strollers like the ones about, but the early stroller was more like a pram. The jogging stroller saw the development of a “pushchair” or “buggy.” Where the baby seat can’t be removed and is actually integrated into the design. Some modern baby strollers still use the bassinet.

Where Did the Word Stroller Come From?

The word “stroller” is an American word. You will hear the term “pram” or “pushchair” used elsewhere such as in England. The words are synonyms. Pram is short for preambulate which means “one who walks or wanders.” The word “stroller” has the same meaning in the United States. It literally means “one who strolls.”

When did Strollers Become Popular?

Baby strollers start rising in popularity in the 1920s. They became more and more available to families following World War I. The design was constantly improving. They were being made with sturdier frames, larger wheels, and deeper prams. They were very convenient (and still are today) so since they were available to everyone, there was a sharp rise in sales.

When were double strollers invented?

So what about twins? Or children with a small age gap? If you are a parent of multiples, you probably own or have owned a double stroller at some point. I did when my sons were young because they were just over a year apart. It was certainly a lifesaver when going out with both kids. The first double stroller was invented in the late Victorian era to accommodate multiple births.

Harris W. Davis got a patent for what he called “a double-decker” stroller in the 1940s. One child sat behind the other instead of side by side. Today we see both versions of twin pushchairs.

Nowadays there are even triple pushchairs or strollers. Most triple buggies (another term used in the UK) were made for children up to 4 years old. Some are known as travel systems with a detachable baby seat with a chassis. Single and double strollers also have this version as well. They are made to be used as a pram or a pushchair, meaning the baby can either sit or lay down. Modern travel systems include detachable car seats.

The Takeaway

Baby carriages were a lifesaving invention for parents that are considered essential to anyone with an infant today. Having a baby stroller makes traveling easier, even if it’s just a trip to the grocery store or doctor’s office. It’s nice that you don’t have to be Queen Victoria in this day and age to purchase one, as they are available in so many styles and accommodate almost any budget.

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